Madam Secretary recap: Russian Roulette
Before we get to this week’s recap, we need to talk about how Henry McCord deserves all the credit of stopping a major world war (at least for the moment). He is literally the reason they did not launch a full-scale attack on Russia. Is the conflict with Russia over? No, it’s not, and I expect that it will be a continued plotline throughout the rest of the season, but Henry is hands down the smartest person on the show and deserves recognition for that. I’ve definitely said it before, and I stand by it: No one uses Henry to his full potential. I hope this episode changes that.
A quick update from last week that’s important to remember: It was “confirmed” that Russia was behind the hacking of Air Force One (assumed to also be behind the hacking of Ukrainian President Bozek’s plane in a prior episode) and Dalton decided to hit them with a city-wide blackout in Moscow, to basically say, “Hey, don’t f— with America.”
Boy, did that turn out to be the wrong decision.
After the power turned back on in Moscow, Dalton had a little Skype session with Maria Ostrov and pretended America had nothing to do with the blackout. He said, just like Russia had nothing to do with the hacking, the U.S. had nothing to do with the blackout. He may as well have winked after he said it. Maria Ostrov was not going to look weak and promised that Russia will hit back.
Why Bess was the only one concerned about her threats, I’m not sure, but I too would be worried about what’s coming next. Maria Ostrov has never followed the rules, so Russell and all the other guys brushing off the threat seemed stupid.
Henry meets up with his DIA contact, Jane, and says that they have Russia’s entire playbook from Dmitri and nowhere in it does it mention a hack on Air Force One. He tells her that she needs to go to the president with this information, but she denies him and tells him to stay out of it.
So… Maria Ostrov retaliates, because why wouldn’t she? She turns off three pipelines that provide 40 percent of Western Europe’s gas supply, which causes Europe to reconsider their alliance with the U.S. Dalton’s response? “We need to retaliate and we need to hit them hard.” They are presented with options for retaliation, but Bess suggests going to the U.N. and laying all the cards out on the table and asking for their allies’ support. She wants to tell them about the Air Force One hacking, about George Lasco, and about the polonium and how Russia was behind it all.
POTUS agrees to let Bess give the speech and she has 24 hours to prepare. Basically, she has to convince the entire world that they are justified and willing to go to war to contain Russian aggression. If the speech doesn’t work, there is no hope of negotiations after revealing all of their intel.
We cut back to Henry who drops in on Russell to tell him about Dmitri’s intel. Russell says it’s too late and he needs to drop his theories that Russia isn’t behind it, threatening Henry with prison if he goes to Bess with his concerns. Henry heads home and decides that millions of people’s lives are more important than going to jail and tells Bess that he believes Russia is not behind the attack. He made probably the most solid point in the episode: If Russia had the most advanced cyber capabilities on the planet, why would their response to a counter cyber attack be to turn off the gas? Boom. Henry is everything.
Bess and Henry are now working together against the clock to find out who was really behind the attack. She heads to Cybercom, where she asks for the evidence they collected to prove that Russia hired George Lasco. They had an email from Lasco’s computer from a Russian bank associated with the GRU informing him of a wire transfer to a Cayman Islands account, but there was never any record of the wire transfer.
Elizabeth then says: “On the eve of my telling the entire world that Russia is behind the greatest cyber attack in human history, prompting actions which could lead us all into the greatest world conflict in human history, there’s a chance that all the evidence we have here is fake?”
Cue Elizabeth McCord’s freak out. She asks her team to recount everything they know. They know that Lasco had connections with Russia, Iran, China, and North Korea. They rule out North Korea and Iran, but China could make sense. Matt points out while Russia and the U.S. battle, it would free up China to take control of Southeast Asia.
She calls in Chinese Foreign Minister Chen and asks him point blank if China was behind the hacking, to which he laughs in her face and says, “China is playing a long game. When we come for you, it won’t be with missiles and cyberattacks. We will repossess you.” I guess this would be a problem for a later episode.
After Elizabeth skips her speech at the U.N., Jay mentions how it’s weird that Ukraine is coming out of this in the best possible position after begging for help. She has Jay quietly collect information on the plane crash and everything begins to unravel.
Henry points out that when he was doing parachute training, the first couple jumps everyone was slightly injured. Whether it be a a cut, bruise or even sprains and fractures. She goes to Craig Sterling for help, asking how the Ukrainians looked after the plane crash, since he flew to Ukraine the next day and he tells her President Bozek had a cut on his face, but otherwise every other person was in perfect condition.
We then learn that two days before the Ukrainian flight the entire passenger list was changed from normal members of his office to random people in his staff. Every member on board the flight now, including Bozek was in the Ukrainian army and had extensive paratroop training. On top of that, a man died in a Vietnamese hospital of polonium poisoning, which was the exact same type as the polonium that killed Lasco. He was, of course, Ukrainian.
Bess takes her proof to the White House explaining the entire situation and how Bozek was behind everything and Dalton is furious (as he should be).
They bring Bozek in, and he confesses that he was behind it all and that as Ukraine’s leader he would have done anything to stop Russia from taking over Ukraine. Unfortunately the United States already announced their alliance and if they back out, Russia will attack Ukraine with everything they’ve got, killing millions of innocent people. They decide to keep their men in Ukraine and enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
Russia violates the no-fly zone that night, because why not? The episode ends with Dalton granting permission to take down the Russian plane.
I guess this means the war with Russia is probably back on, but at least Henry stopped it from starting today over the wrong reasons.
- “Is it wrong to eat cereal for dinner?” Let me answer that for you Bess. No, it is most definitely not wrong to eat cereal for dinner. It’s delicious.
- Jason’s football plotline really didn’t do much for me this episode. Yes, it was a nice break in the Russia drama, but kind of boring. He was injured playing football, made some friends and proceeded to quit football all in one day.
- I feel Matt’s pain when he realizes that the best speech he’s ever written will never be read aloud.
- The absolute worst news form this episode is that Dmitri is still missing and we don’t know if he made it out of Moscow alive.